lend me your ears - une femme d'un certain âge

lend me your ears

I’ve always loved bold earrings, the kind that sparkle and dangle and dance. One of the first big teenage battles that I fought with my mother was over getting my ears pierced. To her, pierced ears were one of the marks of a loose woman (don’t ask me where that came from, haven’t a clue 😉 ) so from the time I was 13 until 16 she was adamant that once I was old enough to wear earrings, they’d be demure clip-ons just like she occasionally wore. It was only when a family friend who was an office manager in a doctor’s office assured her that ALL of the girls were getting pierced ears and that it was perfectly safe that she relented and allowed me to get pierced for my 16th birthday. But she insisted it HAD to be done in a doctor’s office, and wouldn’t you know they used the same piercing gun as the places at the mall, where I had a second hole added in each ear three years later. (Though I usually only wear a single set of earrings, that second piercing still can be found and utilized.)

At first I made my own earrings with wires, filigree, beads and feathers from the craft store. Over the years I’ve worn everything from simple hoops to shoulder-grazing chandeliers. But these days, my lobes can no longer tolerate anything heavy, and prefer wires to posts. I still adore bold earrings, but have to balance visual impact with light weight. I find that materials like lucite, or large but open designs can all fit that criteria.

Do you wear earrings? What designs or styles appeal to you most? If you have pierced ears, how old were you when you first had them done?

Here are a few styles that have caught my eye recently:

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  1. October 21, 2014 / 3:49 am

    Oh I love earrings… On other people, especially when paired with short hair, or a tidy hairdo of any sort. I love the look of big earrings, but on me… Well, they would have to be the size of Christmas tree ornaments to compete with my messy hair, so I stick to statement necklaces.

  2. susie
    October 21, 2014 / 4:00 am

    Earrings are the only jewelry i wear nowdays! No more necklaces due to flab going on in the chin and neck, along with no more v necks due to skin looking blotchy after all the suntanning I did as a kid. Soooo, my earrings are usually very nice, dangly and brings the attention up tp face instead of my aging cleavage!!!

  3. Susan
    October 21, 2014 / 4:22 am

    I had my ears pierced around the time of my 19th birthday. My college boyfriend had given me a lovely pair of 14K gold antique earrings even though I did not have pierced ears! I immediately made an appointment with one of the small college town’s only doctors and had it done. I still have these beautiful earrings and wear them often.

    I do wear earrings every day. One of my favorite pairs is a simple pair of black onyx posts. I also wear silver and also gold teardrop earrings on wires I have many pairs of earrings, but tend to stick with about five or six pairs from my collection.

  4. October 21, 2014 / 4:44 am

    So…one of the reasons I turned to vintage earrings is that from being so “bold” when young the holes in my ears have stretched. Most vintage earrings are clip on which allows me to continue to indulge my passion!

  5. Shybiker
    October 21, 2014 / 5:38 am

    Earrings are a great subject. They’ve existed for centuries, with changing cultural significance. I like your story of your mother’s association of them with promiscuity. I had a grandmother who once told my mother that “the only people who wear earrings are cannibals and Italians.” (Sorry, Italians!)

    Earrings have even more cultural meaning when it comes to men. When I was a teenager (back in the 1970s), very few straight men wore earrings and, if they did, it mattered greatly which ear they pierced. (One ear was perceived to be gay; the other not.) My girlfriend pierced my non-gay ear with an ice-cube and needle. I had long hair so it wasn’t immediately obvious but, one day at dinner, my mother looked at me, did a double-take, and then moaned loudly, “Oh, my God! What did you do this to me?!!”

  6. Argie
    October 21, 2014 / 5:47 am


    I remember those days. I was almost as heretical when I told my (very conservative) mother that I thought a single earring looked good on most men.

    As for my preferences: Being short, with short hair and medium coloring, I have tended to avoid large earrings. I’m trying to find a suitable style now, after all these years, and get away from the smaller button-style, but I find that I still don’t like bold, sparkly, dangly earrings (really, I don’t like movement either). So drop or more interesting posts for me.

  7. Lorraine
    October 21, 2014 / 5:47 am

    Only “gypsies and immigrants” according to my mother. I let my daughter get her ears pierced at 16, but still can’t bring myself to have mine done!

    • Jill Ann
      October 21, 2014 / 6:21 pm

      I have to laugh at this! My mother used to say that only gypsies had pierced ears, in her day. I got mine pierced when I was 21. When I came home afterward, my dad asked my mom if she had approved it. Mom said, “well, she is 21. But you had such cute ears when you were a baby!”

      Now some 36 years later (!) I wear earrings nearly every day. My go-to choice is 1-inch gold hoops. I do have several others I like, but those are the main ones. Happily my holes haven’t stretched out like many other ladies my age.

  8. Marguerite
    October 21, 2014 / 6:31 am

    I grew up in south Texas, where children as young as babies routinely have pierced ears. Mine were done about age ten, in a doctor’s office. I’m careful about not wearing heavy earrings as there has been some stretching over the years. Couldn’t imagine a day without them.

  9. October 21, 2014 / 6:53 am

    Having watched a classmate in Grade 7 have her earring ripped through her earlobe in a lunchtime basketball game, I was too squeamish to have mine pierced — over the decades, though, I got a bit braver, a bit more covetous of the bigger selection of earrings for pierced ears. Finally, for my 50th birthday, my daughters took me to a studio (one that specialized in all kinds of piercings!) and held my hands for the “ouch.” I suppose because I’ve had less years of the wear and tear, I can still tolerate the weightier earrings, but I find increasingly that I’m popping my small gold balls in most mornings. Perhaps because I’m wearing my glasses more often now (rather than my contacts) and the look can get cluttered.
    A fun post and fun to see all the stories you will evoke.

    • October 21, 2014 / 3:02 pm

      Brava! I believe most sport federations now prohibit wearing earrings, as well as necklaces (of the chain type both men and women wear) on the court or playing field, because of such injuries, including fatalities in the case of necklaces. Just like many workers on jobsites can’t even wear their wedding rings for safety reasons. But in everyday life it isn’t much of a problem. Watch out for toddlers, though they are more attracted to dangly, shiny objects.

  10. Susan B
    October 21, 2014 / 7:09 am

    My Hungarian-born, French-raised mother had her ears pierced as a small child, I believe, but she never wore pierced earrings–that was for Gypsies. I still have some of her clip-ons, but finally got my ears pierced in my 40s so I could wear some of her mother’s earrings. I have lots of fun bold clip-ons from when I had short-short hair and a firm jawline, but now I usually wear small hoops or pearls, mostly from lack of imagination or time to think about it. Now that I wear my short-ish hair clipped back more often I look for lightweight danglies that catch the light or have a sculptural presence.

  11. Jeanne Maxon
    October 21, 2014 / 8:00 am

    I got my ears pierced in my twenties, but I was so squeamish I had it done by a doctor! (Later I added a second hole at the mall.) Now I don’t feel dressed without earrings. I love unusual silver earrings, especially spiral shapes and dangles. Now my husband recognizes that “one can never have too many earrings”. Once when I observed that “I express myself through my earrings”, my son rolled his eyes and replied, “Don’t we all!” 🙂

  12. Hostess
    October 21, 2014 / 8:06 am

    I have two piercings in each ear also! Mother was adamant that I wait until my 13 th birthday and we went to a well respected jeweller to have them done….mother got hers done too!
    I cannot wear heavy earrings either and these days wear my simple diamond studs which were gifts from my husband. I have two pair!
    I watched that documentary about the auction of Liz Taylor’s jewels. If you haven’t seen it you can find it on Vimeo…well done and you might fall In love with luxe gems.

  13. October 21, 2014 / 8:08 am

    Yes – love m danglers? And Alexis Bittar is a genius.

  14. Mary
    October 21, 2014 / 8:12 am

    I was in my late 20s when I had my ears pierced. Like you, I can only wear lightweight earrings and usually choose to wear hanging ones similar to the ones you show–my hair is silver and long and so are my earrings. However, the only time I go without earring is when I am with my 5 month grandson. Strong and accurate grabbing little tyke that he is. 🙂

  15. nell
    October 21, 2014 / 8:38 am

    Great picture of Elizabeth Taylor– she adored earrings and especially very vampy, chandelier -style ones, right up to the end. She had some emerald ones that looked spectacular right next to those violet eyes. My mother wore clip-on sparklers with her little wool dresses and stiletto heels and looked great, but would never have considered piercing her ears.

    For some reason, they don’t appeal to me (although I think other people look great, especially in bold hoops) and although I finally got piercings late, in my 30’s, I’ve never bothered. Maybe because my ears seem to be slightly crooked– one higher than the other! But I can mask that by careful placement of clips, should I desire. I have a vintage pair of long jade drops that actually have the old screw backs that are fun to wear. And some art deco sliver clips.

    Sigh. I love bracelets, necklaces and rings so much, that most of the time avoid earrings just to keep from being overloaded!

  16. Becky
    October 21, 2014 / 9:07 am

    I got my ears pierced when I was a college freshman in 1968. My dorm RA did it with a needle and an ice cube. I’ve often been amazed at myself for getting it done that way but I had no problems. Does anyone do that any more? I think it was fairly common back then.

    I don’t feel dressed without earrings on and I much prefer dangling earrings to studs.

  17. October 21, 2014 / 9:55 am

    I got my ears pierced at about age 13 or 14 by our doctor who used a needle and surgical thread to keep the holes open. As I recall, this was because *I* thought that was the way to go (why???). Once my ears healed, putting in the first pair of earrings was like having them pierced all over again because the earring post was much thicker than the thread! Silly girl. Now I wear all sorts of earrings as my only jewelry because most necklaces irritate my skin.

  18. Pam
    October 21, 2014 / 10:04 am

    Laughed at your description of your conversation with your Mom. Mine was exactly the same when I was in high school in 1968 in the deep south. So, a bunch of us started taking apart our little faux pearl necklaces and glued a small pearl on each ear lobe for days – to appear as though we had pierced ears. ALL of our mothers finally gave in.

  19. October 21, 2014 / 10:28 am

    i love earrings…I love bold earrings…but unfortunately, part of the aging process has been weakening earlobes! So, I pretty much wear studs of some kind every day…but I find really fun studs. If I could wear big ones…I so would. But anyone else with my predicament…there are lots of fun studs on the market…including the beautiful pearls!

  20. sally mcgowan
    October 21, 2014 / 10:57 am

    l laughed out loud at your description of arguing with your mother! My mother had the same notion about who did and who didn’t. Finally had mine pierced in my kitchen after I was married. A friend did it with a needle, ice cube and an orange behind the ear to catch the sharp needle. Love all sizes and shapes of earrings–my favorites now are dangles on a wire.

    PS I told my daughter she could not have hers pierced until she stopped fighting with her brothers; it worked! Peace reigned in our house and she now has 3 holes!

  21. Kim
    October 21, 2014 / 11:08 am

    I too had my ears pierced at the doctor’s office when I was 13 – 45 years ago. He applied a spray on freezing medication and did one ear, then stepped back and told me to return the next week and he would do the other ear. Both he and my mother laughed heartily when my jaw literally dropped! He of course did the other one immediately! I now have two holes and wear diamond studs in the second hole and not-too-large gold huggies in the first holes – my daily uniform.

  22. Esmeralda
    October 21, 2014 / 11:18 am

    When I said at 19 that I was going to have my ears pierced, my dad told me (to discourage me) that they would sag as I got older. I replied that everything would sag as I got older and my earlobes would probably be the least of my problems. He bought me some very lovely earrings as presents over the years. I remember getting my ears pierced in a jewellers in the Covered Market in Oxford. It didn’t hurt, I wasn’t scared, but I fainted. Picked myself up off the floor, apologised: and fainted again. After several repetitions the jeweller asked me to leave before I frightened the girl who had the next appointment. They had to pour me into a cab. The shame.

  23. Argie
    October 21, 2014 / 11:25 am


    Shame? No shame on you–just a great story!

  24. Melanie LeFever Snyder
    October 21, 2014 / 2:17 pm

    Funny, my mother felt the same way! I rebelled at 14 and had my girlfriend pierce my ears! I prefer studs. I love the look of dangly earrings on others, but they just don’t look right on me.

  25. October 21, 2014 / 3:18 pm

    I love earrings – almost always wear them, and they are about the only jewellery I wear. (I hate rings) Sadly, I have allergies, and can only wear gold or silver any more, though gold or silver posts with non-reactive materials such as wood and some resins are fine. Most of mine are dangly, though they can’t be too long.

    I prefer silver filagree; a bit “Oriental” in style. I had some very good quality costume jewellery earrings that my late mother had bought, but could no longer wear them because of the reactive metal and the weight. I made an appointment with my favourite charity shop, Le Chaînon, which helps women in crisis, and gave them all, to a staff member who knows what they were worth. I suppose I could have sold them, but wanted them to be a gift.

    Unfortunately, I have quite a few “orphans”…

  26. KPL
    October 21, 2014 / 3:49 pm

    I had my ears pierced behind my mother’s back at 13. She was furious as were my grandparents. I wear simple earrings most of the time, hoops tend to be my favorite.

  27. Laurie
    October 21, 2014 / 5:11 pm

    I had my ears pierced when I was 10 (!) My mother was from eastern Europe so I think she had a different view on it. Anyway, now I feel naked without earrings – wear them daily. For years and years I wore a pair of 14k gold hoops, but now I have branched out. I wear gold, pearls, gemstones, and more “fun” styles. Like you, I don’t wear anything heavy, and I much prefer lever-backs to any other style.

  28. Duchesse
    October 21, 2014 / 6:26 pm

    Another disobedient daughter here; 18, dorm room, done by nursing student roommate. Had two holes but let upper one close up by 1992 or so. Definitely passé here unless you are young and have four or more (and different number in each ear.) I find the post w/ clip (aka French clips) good for support. Don’t know how women tolerate non-pierced earrings; the pressure kills my ear after an hour or so.

  29. Linda B.
    October 21, 2014 / 7:57 pm

    Being the same age and from the same cultural background as you, it should be no surprise that it was also considered not something proper for a young lady to get her ears pierced in my family either. I was supposed to wait until I was 16. . . but one of my more forward thinking aunts convinced my mom to let me get my ears pierced when I was 13 or 14 I think. And–it happened in the doctor’s office.

    For my sixteenth birthday, my parents took a pair of really cool clip on earrings that had belonged to my great grandmother, and had them remade for me. They had come all the way from Russia when my Great-Grandma Rebecca emigrated first to England, then to America in the early 20th century, and they were in great need of repair by the early ’70s. The earrings consisted of jade carved into thin patterned squares, hung from small gold chains–but by that time the chains were disintegrating. For my birthday, they were given new chains, that hung off of gold posts. I still have these treasures. I wear them on days I need special fortitude, knowing what a strong and brilliant woman that my great-grandma was.

  30. Paula L Lusk
    October 21, 2014 / 9:35 pm

    My Mother also, had her nasty names for people with pierced ears. Finally, at 15 we had a friend that was a nurse, and I was allowed to have them pierced. I, also, have put in a second hole, I did it myself.
    I can’t wear long earrings, short neck. Sometimes I find a pair of big earring I like, so I look for them in clip on, or buy pierced, cut off the stud and glue a clip onto them. I feel naked without my earrings, always have. Our two girls were allowed to get their ears pierced @ 12 yrs. if they wanted, and yes, they did.

  31. greenleafhill
    October 22, 2014 / 1:32 am

    I grew up in Japan, and didn’t know anyone with pierced ears. My mother considered them suitable only for “gypsies and Catholics”! When we moved back to the States in the early ’70s, my sisters got their ears pierced…they were in high school by then. Very few of my college friends had pierced ears. When I was a young woman working in NYC, at a large bank, I spent a lot of money on all sorts of clip earrings at a wonderful store on Madison Avenue called Gale Grant. Gale was an older woman with very strong opinions about pierced ears. She would literally shoo a customer out of the shop if they asked to see pierced earrings! She thought that pierced ears were very low-class. Several decades later, almost all of my 50+ friends have pierced ears, but I’m still a hold-out. I guess I’m afraid I’ll form keloids on my ears! I remember having an conversation with Contessa Ghisi, the proprietress of a beautiful jewelry store near Harrods in London. She also sold only clip earrings, and claimed that NO European royalty had pierced ears! Both of my daughters begged me to allow them to pierce their ears, and I gave into their demands when they were 13!

  32. rukshanaafia
    October 22, 2014 / 3:59 am

    I had my ears pierced at 9 or 10 by my mother who was a doctor . I am Eurasian and we were used to travelling in Spain where tiny girls would wear gold studs or rings so my mother didn’t object . She said she had had her ears pierced as a baby but thought I should be old enough to have a choice and didn’t approve of clip-ons because of the pain which patients reported . In England at that time (early 60s) it was very difficult to find earrings for pierced ears and my friends were a bit horrified . In fact when I went to secondary school I was one of only 2 girls with pierced ears – the other was 1/2 Spanish – and our headmistress tried to stop anyone else doing it ! I wear earrings (dangly not studs or hoops) all the time – in fact earrings & perfume I managed even in the hectic days/weeks/months after my son’s birth when dressing was a struggle & makeup out of the question .
    In fact he has made some of my favourites including wooden ones carved using his power drill as a small scale lathe when he forgot to get beads before one of my birthdays .

  33. susie
    October 22, 2014 / 4:33 am

    Wow- just couldnt help but see “only for gypsies* in alot of comments!! When I grew up I also had to sneak off to get my ears done, my mother never got over it. Ironically, I had my DNA dome last year and guess what………. My family IS part Gypsy!!! (Romani) Take that, mom!!! : ))

  34. October 22, 2014 / 8:39 am

    My mother has never pierced her ears, despite urgings from my sister and me. She had a great collection of clip earrings, very 1950s glamorous, but seldom wore them when we were kids. She relented and allowed me to get my ears pierced when I was fourteen, and she accompanied me to the piercing kiosk at the mall. That piercing gun was scary, and I was glad to have Mom standing by.
    I joined the army at eighteen and, during basic training, we weren’t allowed to wear earrings, so the girls would stick bits of broom straw – from the brooms we used to clean the barracks – into their ears to keep the holes from closing during the three months of training. After that, we were allowed to wear simple gold or silver posts when in uniform.
    I love my collection of bohemian, hippie-dippy dangly earrings, though I seldom wear anything heavy. At 52 my lobes haven’t stretched, but I find heavy earrings uncomfortable. My favorite pair are simple, lightweight silver hoops that go with most everything.

  35. Leslie in Oregon
    October 23, 2014 / 12:46 am

    While I find many earrings beautiful by themselves, I have no desire to wear them in my ears.

  36. October 23, 2014 / 7:16 am

    My father was the one who objected to having my ears pierced. He thought it was only for “loose women and Catholics”. My mother finally talked him into letting me and my GF did it one day just before my weekly piano lesson with our minister’s wife. I greeted her (the minister’s wife) at the door with safety pins in my ears. I hadn’t yet bought earrings. She was quite taken aback but not as much as a bit later when screams of pain came from our bathroom where my BFF was also having her ears pierced. in those days, one used an ice cube to numb the ear and a sterilized sewing needle to make the hole. I don’t think my minister’s wife ever thought much of me after that.

  37. Nicole
    October 23, 2014 / 2:36 pm

    I love earrings, even wish I had more holes to wear them! The second hole I have on one ear isn’t comfortable with a post in it. Yes, @amidprivilege Alexis Bittar is genius. One day maybe I shall own a pair of those beauties. I got my ears pierced using sleepers. Anybody remember those? My mother did not object, though I do not think she was too thrilled. My older sister might have helped convince her it was okay and not too “fast” for my age, around 12. Mom’s earrings were all clip-on, of which I’ve inherited a couple of gorgeous pairs, which hurt! However did they wear those. I remember playing with screw-on, lever-back type earrings. Fun stroll down memory lane!

  38. October 23, 2014 / 4:07 pm

    Earrings are my favorite jewelry item. I wear white gold and find it difficult to find very many as most on the market are yellow gold. I love hoops (as long as they aren’t overly large) of all kinds, and my classic diamond studs. The one style I’ve ceased to wear are the long dangles as I feel visually, they may not be the wisest choice as I age and gravity has it’s way!

    I was likewise not permitted to have my ears pierced until such time as my sister got hers done (she is 7 years my senior and my Mom endorsed *anything* she did!). I was 16. Mom said she always associated pierced ears w/ gypsies. Gypsies! As if there were any where I grew up.

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